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Effective .38 Spl Load That Doesn't Overpenetrate?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Tequila jake, Dec 18, 2006.

  1. Tequila jake

    Tequila jake Well-Known Member

    Does anyone know of an effective .38 Spl load that will not overpenetrate? I live in an apartment and I don't want a stray shot to go through a wall and hurt or kill a neighbor. I've read that the Corbon 110 gr +P DPX will penetrate 1/4" of mild steel, which eliminates it from consideration (at least for me) for use in an apartment. Any suggestions?

    Tequila Jake:confused:
  2. Waywatcher

    Waywatcher Well-Known Member

    Any round capable of hurting a person is capable of going through walls.

    Higher velocity, lower weight bullets tend to penetrate less though. There is no magic bullet. The 110 DPX is a great choice.
  3. vynx

    vynx Well-Known Member

    Try the 148 grain target loads
  4. 1 LT MPC

    1 LT MPC Well-Known Member

    Ditto the 148 grain Full wadcutter. Either a Winchester or Remington will do.:cool:
  5. Tropical Buzz

    Tropical Buzz Well-Known Member

    Have you ever checked out the Box O' Truth? http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/theboxotruth.htm
    Interesting "real world" data on different calibers and firearms vs. drywall, cars, books, armour, etc. Fun and informative. Even .22LR fired from a pistol penetrates the equivalent of 3 interior walls. In one test, relatively expensive reduced penetration (9mm) Fang Face and Air Freedom rounds still penetrated the equivalent of 5 and 3 interior walls respectively but they along with the Glasser Blue tip fragmented as designed and would not penetrate a wall after going through a water jug.
  6. CSA 357

    CSA 357 Well-Known Member

    if your a reloader try some 148 hbwc loaded back wards with around 3.0 gr of bullseye, i have some but have never shot anyone with them, but they should work, csa
  7. HiWayMan

    HiWayMan Well-Known Member

    +1 on the 148gr HBWC reversed. They tumbled at about 20' out of a 2" barrel for me, but those that hit square on the plywood backstop mushroomed huge and were only in the dirt backstop about 2". So they bleed energy pretty quick.

    Personally, over penetration doesn't bother me now. In fact, I want to be able to shoot thru the interior walls of my house.
  8. Zero_DgZ

    Zero_DgZ Well-Known Member

    Wanted: V10 diesel monster truck with 4 ton tow rating, but must have good gas mileage.
  9. Robo_Railer

    Robo_Railer Well-Known Member

    I don't know if anyone's made similar rounds since, but some years back, MBAssociates (the GyroJet guys) produced handgun ammunition they called "Short-Stop." Their catalog said it was designed for sky marshals and similar occupations. It was a .38 cal. version of their less-lethal beanbag rounds, and left quite a crater in test media, but was supposed to dump its energy pretty quickly. I think the projectile was supposed to spin and flatten out to about the size of a quarter upon leaving the barrel.
    I haven't read of any actual use of those, so I don't know how sound the concept was. I found one reference to it on the Web, a Pub Med summary about an article in a German medical journal, which also mentioned the Speer-CCI .38/.357 shot cartridges.
  10. huntershooter

    huntershooter Well-Known Member

    Glaser "Safety Slugs."
  11. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    TRUE! Don't worry about overpenetration. Worry about getting the most potent round you possibly can and learning to fire it accurately from the most powerful firearm you can bring to bear.

    The backwards HB wadcutter is a very old idea, and very outdated. It's what people did 100 years ago when they had no alternative source for HP bullets. The LSWCHP FBI commercial loads are much better and will expand more reliably.
  12. The Sentinel

    The Sentinel Member

    Hollow points?

    I thought that was what hollow points were for?:confused: I was told that as soon as they hit the main target, they flatten out and pretty much stay where they've hit.
    Was this bogus info given to me at the range I go to?
  13. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    In practice most handgun HP's that hit sheetrock or light interior walls are prone to having their tips filled and they penetrate with little expansion. Even clothing can do this. RIFLE VELOCITY SP's are a whole different animal, and are generally moving fast enough to expand even if they encounter light obstacles. So ironically you can end up with more overpenetration from handgun bullets than with properly loaded rifle bullets.

    HP's were never supposed to work as brakes. They are supposed to increase damage by expanding the diameter of the round and increasing tissue loss as the bullet passes through. However, the same handgun bullets that overpenetrate if the HP doesn't work will often fail to penetrate very far when the HP's function. The people who sell these things for a living have come up with "energy dumping" and other hogwash to try to justify what is really a design shortcoming.
  14. tipoc

    tipoc Well-Known Member

    Cosmoline is about right.

    The best way to reduce the danger of overpenetration is to do your best to hit what you are aiming at. JHPs don't always do what you'd like them to but when they do work, and bullet design is better today than ever before, they can minimize overpenetration given proper shot placement. Still when they do work and expand as advertised they can still penetrate through several layers of wall board before coming to rest. For me the old FBI load, 158 gr. LSWCHP, works well. Take a look at the Glazer round as well.

    You are right to be concerned about overpenetration living in an apartment bldg. More than one person who no one was intentionally shooting at has been hit by rounds coming through walls and windows. You are right to look for a round that can minimize the danger of that and still do what it is intended to do which is to protect your life. Select a round and use it. This places you in the best defensive position you can be in.

  15. Tbu61

    Tbu61 Well-Known Member


    If memory serves I loaded the 148gr Hollow base Wadcutter (base forward) with 3.1 gr of Bullseye. Got INCREDIBLE expansion. Soft lead will do that ya' know...

    I would highly discourage the idea of doing anything like that for a self defense load. Here's why... Assuming you do shoot someone, you want to distance yourself from any secondary liability.

    A prosecuting attorney WILL enlist the services of a forensic specialist, who will in-turn examine the bullet that you produced. In court, someone will ask you why you produced an extremely effective and destructive round. Eventually, the legal system will demonstrate that you intended to produce grievous bodily harm, thus the act of defending yourself was in-fact a "premeditated" act of criminal intent.

    Think about it, that's what happens.

    Always use factory loads for self defense, Glazers are great. If you live in a close quarters situation and have legitimate fear for your safety, either get a shotgun or move to a better place.

  16. Jrsmith

    Jrsmith Well-Known Member

    Tbu, I hear that comment a lot and I was wondering if there are any documented cases of this being used against a handloader in a self defense situation, or if this is just theory.
  17. Tbu61

    Tbu61 Well-Known Member

    In most firearms related trials, weapon and ammunition type are discussed in great detail. If the seller of the gun can be located, he/she will be called to testify to the details of the gun sale, conversations with the buyer, etc.

    I was a Dealer in the late 80's and I sold a gun that was stolen and used in a crime. The crook also stole the ammo (which had a store price tag on it).

    I was asked all sorts of questions, to include, "how much powder is in factory loaded rounds" and "What does +P really mean".

    If there is any doubt that a shooting wasn't justifiable, circumstantial evidence will be called in to support an argument.

    Yup, it's real

  18. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    No, this is a gun myth. Do some searches. We've had extensive threads on this issue. Mas himself clarified the issue. The problem isn't that you're creating an "extra deadly" bullet, but that the variabilities of most handloaded rounds and the lack of reliable data can create problems if your expert needs that data to help bolster your claim of self defense. Premeditation or making an "extra deadly" bullet has NOTHING to do with it. It's total hogwash. Deadly force is deadly. And every bullet that kills is deadly, from a .22 LR to a .454 Casull. And you won't have a better claim for self defense by using a weaker or less effective round.

    Here's the big thread on this debate:


    Mas, who's writing is often cited as the origin of the myth, comes to the issue as an expert witness. He's only called in where there's some forensic debate going on in the first place. And he makes a good argument for why factory rounds with exemplars and known bulk powder burn rates on record can help experts reconstruct what took place. You will never see him arguing that you should use a round that isn't "extra deadly." Or that the DA will hang you for creating a "killer" bullet. What other kind is there? A bean bag I suppose.

    I use handloads for self defense, but only where doing so offers critical advantages over existing factory rounds. For example, if I'm using a rifle I prefer to load lighter, faster rounds than you can buy OTC because most factory rounds are designed for delayed expansion or are FMJ's. If for no other reason, it's almost always better to go with factory if you can because they are more reliable. Even if one of 100 handloads has a primer ignition failure, that's another roll of the dice that could cost you your life.

    To sum up, in this case you're really better off loading a tried and true factory round like the FBI load than trying to create something new.
  19. CSA 357

    CSA 357 Well-Known Member

    yes when you shoot some one it is to do harm, :rolleyes:
  20. kmrcstintn

    kmrcstintn Well-Known Member

    According to the tests done in this article, the reversed hollowbase full wadcutter (to make a pseudo-hollowpoint) doesn't work very well for expansion:


    +1 --- very good choice for heavier framed revolvers with 4" barrels (this load was designed for optimal penetration & expansion for 4" barreled guns); be aware that the Winchester variant has more antimony to harder the lead to reduce lead fouling and this may hamper expansion from a short snubby barrel where velocity is lost when a full powder burn cannot be achieved in a short barrel

    +1 --- very good choice for its type; been around a long time and proven to fragment quickly on soft targets; drawbacks are price and the fact that is may not penetrate enough if the target is wearing bulky and heavy clothing

    overall, pretty hard choice--I choose the concept of a commercially produced hollowpoint myself--I'm still trying several types & brands for my revolvers:

    Hornady XTP 125 grain .38 spl (non +p)
    Federal Nyclad lswchp 158 grain .38 spl +p
    Remington semijacketed hollowpoint 125 gr .38 spl +p
    Winchester semijacketed hollowpoint 125 grain .38 spl +p

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